5 Rocket Stocks to Buy Before Turkey Day

Tickers in this article: AKAM TGT COST PCLN
BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Investors are getting heartburn this week, and it's not just from the turkey and mashed potatoes everyone will be eating on Thursday. Stocks have been in pullback mode for the last month and change, and that still has investors nervous about what's still to come for their portfolios this year.

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But with Thanksgiving's shortened trading week upon us, weary investors could very well be due for a change -- historically, Thanksgiving offers a strong push for stocks. If nothing else, market reprieves on Thursday and half of Black Friday will offer investors a chance to sit back and mentally absorb the price action that we've been dealing with of late.

Even though we're looking at a shortened week, there are still market moves worth making. That's why we're taking a closer look at five new Rocket Stocks to start the week.

For the uninitiated, "Rocket Stocks" are our list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. To find them, I run a weekly quantitative screen that seeks out stocks with a combination of analyst upgrades and positive earnings surprises to identify rising analyst expectations, a bullish signal for stocks in any market. After all, where analysts' expectations are increasing, institutional cash often follows.

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Without further ado, here's a look at this week's Rocket Stocks .

AstraZeneca plc

We'll start off with biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca plc (AZN) -- and no, it's not just because the firm's heartburn drug, Nexium, could see a sales boost come Turkey Day. AstraZeneca is a $55 billion pharmaceutical stock with an impressive portfolio of brand name drugs and a truly worldwide presence. The firm generates less than 40% of sales in the United States, and it's been working hard to increase its exposure to high-growth emerging markets.

AstraZeneca's strong brands have had some impressive performance. Even drugs with recent generic competition have been able to boost their market share thanks to strong marketing campaigns, easing some worries about the patent cliff that AZN has looming on the horizon. Even so, patent dropoffs are still a big concern right now -- AstraZeneca is just coming off the expiration of blockbuster Lipitor's patent protection. To counter that, management has been very cost-conscious, cutting down on potential earnings drags further down the income statement.

Speaking of financials, AZN boasts a strong balance sheet too, with close to $7 billion in cash that helps to offset $11 billion in debt built up from an acquisition-hungry approach. That liquidity leaves the firm with ample dry powder to buy a bigger drug pipeline. With rising analyst sentiment in play this week, we're betting on shares.